The Main Components of a High Speed Handpiece

The Main Components of a High Speed Handpiece

The Components of a High Speed Turbine Assembly

Maintaining Your High Speed Handpiece

What Are the Different Types of High Speed Handpiece Connections?

  • Handpieces can come with either a fixed back end or a quick disconnect swivel style.
  • Both types of back ends can come with 5 different tubing connection configurations (i.e. 2 hole, 4 hole).

Fixed Back

  • Does not have a swivel coupler; must be screwed on/off tubing for cleaning and does not swivel.
  • Connections are internationally standardized and universal (ISO) so that any brand of handpiece will fit the same tubing connection configuration.

Quick Disconnect

  • The handpiece has a hollow back end that can be snapped onto a coupler.
  • The coupler is screwed onto the tubing, allowing the handpiece to be quickly attached and removed for cleaning.

What are the Benefits of Quick Disconnect Couplers?

  • Easy and fast removal of the handpiece from the tubing.
  • Increased dentist comfort, because the swivel reduces the drag of the tubing.


What are the Disadvantages of Quick Disconnect Couplers?

Every major brand of handpiece has its own proprietary connection between the handpiece and the swivel, so handpieces and swivels from different brands are not compatible.

Many manufacturers are beginning to offer handpieces that will fit other brands of couplers, but it appers to us  that the KaVo MULTIflex style coupling is winning the battle to become the universal quick connect style.


A light system that used special glass fibers called optical bundles to carry a source of light


The part in the handpiece turbine used to hold the bur.


The main central cylindrical component of a turbine that holds the bur. Its auto button function locks and releases the bur without a manual key wrench.


The cap, back cap, or cover which serves to lock in the turbine on the top head area of the handpiece.


The main component of a high speed handpiece that is located in the head sealed in with a push button, lever and bur wrench end cap which functions on compressed air or electricity.


A handpiece bearings that incorporates ceramic balls. Ceramic bearings are 25% harder than conventional steel but are only half the weight. Thus, efficiency and durability is increased.


A rubber component that is placed on the button of the handpiece covering the outer circumference of the 4 protruding tubes. It acts as a seal between the handpiece and the supply unit connector for the air and water flow.


The air discharged from a dental handpiece after spinning the turbine.


A connection fitting feature on the handpeice or attachment which allows for easy separation and connection.


The compressed air used to rotate the turbine in a dental handpiece.


A straight nose cone or angle that quick disconnects on and off the front of a low speed motor to provide various bur and prophy holding options.


A liquid applied to moving parts of a handpiece in order to reduce friction.


Revolutions Per Minute. A unit it is used as a measure of rotational speed of a mechanical component.

What Are the Types of Tubing Connections?


2 Hole (Borden Connection)

  • Usually the standard in developing countries (e.g., all of Latin America).
  • Has one large hole, which is air intake to drive the turbine to spin, and a small hole for water to cool the bur/tooth.
  • No air exhaust, so the exhaust just blows right out of the handpiece, making it much louder.
  • Also, no chip air, so the water comes out more as a stream than as a fine mist.
  • A 2/4 adapter can be used to fit this kind of handpiece onto 4 hole tubing, but the handpiece will still not have the chip air or exhaust air features.
  • Used very little. In fact, we may be one of the last manufacturers still to offer this style!
  • Has the same handpiece thread design as 2 hole, but with the addition of one extra small tube for the chip air line to allow the water to come out as a fine mist.
  • Can be converted to 2 hole by simply removing the chip air tube.


4 Hole (Midwest Connection)

  • The standard in the U.S. and Europe.
  • Has two large air holes (the smaller of the two is air in and the larger is air exhaust out).
  • Also has two small holes, a water tube and a chip air tube (which brings air to the head where it either mixes with or hits the water to make a fine mist) to cool the bur/tooth and clear debris.
  • A 4/2 adapter can be used to fit this kind of handpiece onto 2 hole tubing, but the handpiece will lose the exhaust and chip air feature.

5 Hole


  • Has the same handpiece thread design as 4 hole, but with the addition of a fiber optic rod which
  • transmits light through the handpiece and illuminates the bur and tooth area for better visibility.
  • Has all the other features of 4 hole as well.
  • A 5 hole handpiece can be used on 4 hole tubing, but the light feature will not function

Quick Disconnect Coupler Connections


  • Couplers can be 2 hole, 4 hole, and fiber optic (2 types).
  • 5 hole fiber optic couplers have an internal glass rod that goes onto tubing that has a light source (bulb) either in the tubing or on the dental control unit.
  • 6 pin couplers (with 4 holes like a normal 4 hole handpiece plus 2 metal pins to provide electricity) have the light bulb in the coupler itself.

To help narrow down your selection, first answer the following 3 questions.


Do you want a handpiece that:


1.  Is Fixed Back or Quick Disconnect?

  •  If Quick Disconnect, does it need to connect with another manufacturer’s coupler?
  •  If so, whose?

2.  Has a Standard Chuck or a Push Button Chuck?

3.  Is Fiber Optic or Non-Fiber Optic?